Wai’opae Ponds: Learning When an Activity Might Not Be for the Whole Family
Mike and I encountered a few activities while touring the Big Island of Hawaii that we turned to each other and thought, if Dek was older this would be a whole lot more fun. Don’t get me wrong; there were a lot of places we brought Dek that most parents wouldn’t think of taking their 2 year old. We took turns snorkeling, exploring areas he was just too little to tackle or it was unsafe for us to carry him through (uneven lava jutting out into the ocean comes to mind). Wai’opae ponds looked like it would be one of those spots.
These weren’t actually ponds; they were more like giant tide pools. They were deep and had huge rocks breaking up the pools. I’m not a big snorkeler; fish taking a nibble out of my flesh kind of creeps me out. Yes, even the tiny ones that couldn’t even nip my toes. I’m a woos. Go ahead, you can say it. I just like to be the one eating, not being eaten.
While Mike explored the pools, Dek and I hung out on a rock. It was late in the day and the sun was setting. My bum hurt sitting on that rock.
Dek and I walked around the connecting stones with our lovely water shoes on (read hideous and unattractive in every way but kept our feet planted on the rocks). I took some pictures of Dek trying to drink as much sea water as he could. After a while there wasn’t much else to do. The water was too deep for Dek to use his shovel and pail. It was a bit too cold to throw him into the water with his life vest on. He wasn’t really interested in swimming either; a first on the island for sure. Mike was having some trouble with his mask. This did not seem like a winning after nap excursion.
Halfway through our adventure-filled afternoon of rock sitting I got it into my head that it would be fun to snorkel with Mike. There was no way I was going out on my own. I would need a body to sacrifice to the fish if necessary. But what could we do with Dek? It’s not like I could turn to him and say “mommy and daddy are going to go for a swim now. You sit tight till we get back.” Yeah, not an option.
This is when family travel can get tricky. I had a flashback of a previous trip down to Hawaii the year before Dek was born. Mike and I snorkeled at Tunnels Beach in Kauai almost every other day. Our rental was close by and we adored that beach. It was heaven, it was couple bonding time, and it was a good thing no one told me that was the beach Bethany Hamilton lost her arm to a shark on!
I turned to my little guy and smiled. So what if I couldn’t run off and do exactly what I wanted to do at that very moment. Honestly I would have snorkeled with Mike for 2 minutes before chickening out and running back to the rocks. In some ways Dek does hold us back, but the benefits of having him with us has far outweighed any activities we have had to forgo by bringing him along.
Actually with a little more planning I think this could have worked with Dek. I’m finding that boogie boards are the answer to a lot of our problems. Costco sells one that has a snorkel mask built right in. Dek would have loved to peer down and see all of the fish his dad was seeing. Naturally we never thought about buying one when we were in Kona and a Costco was close by. We didn’t even grabbed a regular boogie board from our rental house, which had plenty of them. With a life vest and boogie board Dek could have come out with us. Mike could have been the fish bait and I could have checked out the wildlife with Dek for 2 minutes before I ran screaming for the rocks.
Would I like a grandparent or other family member around to watch Dek so Mike and I can go snorkeling more easily or grab a late night meal out when we travel? Sure, but I want that at home too. Of course I was in my 2nd trimester of my pregnancy so really late nights were already a thing of the past for me. After a long day of fun in the sun I needed to be in bed extra early. Thinking back on our time in Kauai it really wasn’t much different. We were in bed early then too. All the swimming and a nice sunburn sure took a lot out of me. At least with Dek along for the ride I remember to put sunscreen on more often. Someone has to protect our porcelain white skin.
Know before you go
- Wai’opae Ponds, Kapoho-Kai Road (just before mile marker 9). Turn left when it dead ends to get to the parking lot.
- This is a public access beach unlike many of the Champagne ponds. You can visit even if you are not staying in Kapoho Beach Community.
- Head over just before high tide when the water is clear and deep. Low tide can harbor bacteria. Not something you want to deal with.
- Weekdays are the best time to explore. The locals come out in droves on the weekends just like many other spots on the island.
- There are no restrooms